One reader who e-mailed me on Friday asked the following question, which I would like to answer:
The way I read you, your advice would be to avoid falling into the marriage trap, but since you obviously love your children, would you recommend gay marriage and adoption? I wonder how many men today are still feeling forced into a marriage because of homophobia (internalized or not).
I consider my children one of the greatest successes of my life. I am very proud of them and love them deeply - not that there isn't a great deal of drama being a parent, and lots of worries. Being a parent involves so much wanting to take care of and protect your children. I would definitely recommend gay marriage and adoption or surrogate parenting. There are countless children in foster care who would be so well served living in a loving home with caring LGBT parents. Moreover, parenthood is a gift that would further enrich the lives of many gays.
What has surprised me is the number of gay and lesbian individuals that I know who were married to opposite sex spouses and had children before they finally came to terms with their sexual orientation. With out exception, they love their children and strive to be wonderful parents. What children need most is love, support and commitment. I truly believe I would have been a far better parent if I had not been in the closet and fighting so many of my own demons. It has a definite negative effect on one's entire level of happiness. If you are not happy/comfortable with yourself, it will taint everything. Oddly, it is my youngest daughter of the three children who seems to see the difference in me now post closet vs. before. She has stated that she sees I am a happier person and less moody, etc. In short, not the same person. Would that I had come to terms with everything years earlier.
Parenting is not for the feint of heart or obsessive worrier, however. It can be nerve wracking and lead to many sleepless times. Just last night, my youngest was driving back to Richmond in the wee hours of the morning (she had driven to a concert out of town and was headed back) and had called for some directions getting back, which I gave to her. I asked her to call me once she was safely at her dorm so that I could go to sleep without worrying, especially due to the very late hour. I wait and wait and 4:00 AM comes and still no call, yet given where she had called from, she should have been back no later than 3:00AM . Finally I get a text message at 4:25 AM:
Oh sorry dad! Yeah, I'm here. As soon as I got here Sam [Samantha, one of her friends from Virginia Beach that I have know since she was an infant almost] caused drama that I had to deal with. Sorry, I love you!
I was needless to say, greatly relieved, although I will feel like crap now much of the day today from lack of a sound sleep. But my sweetheart is priceless.